The wonderful structure of the shoin of the Jikō-in, a small temple in the western section of Nara is worthy of our admiration. I know nothing to equal the beauty of the spatial construction of this building. Some criticize the building for its crude structure and for a floor plan that seems to be merely a reflection of the feudal way of life, but these beautiful spaces are above any such criticism. To eliminate such forms would be to do away with what we have left of Japanese culture. Let us try to make a proper appraisal of the spaces of the beautiful Jikō-in.
The idea that there is an intimate connection between the old Japanese heritage of a sense of space and the point at which Western architecture finally arrived was very strong after the War. This gave the Japanese people confidence and helped them to quickly recover from the defeat of the War ; however, it is quite clear that the beautiful Japanese spaces and the new spaces achieved in modern architecture are not things of the same nature. To look at the two, of course, there is a connection, but this is only the feeling that architectural spaces give, and it would be mistaken to believe that these two were homogenous. The natures of these spaces are vastly different because the background of Western architectural space and the subtleties that have interwoven to create Japanese spaces are very different.
In his important work Space, Time, and Architecture, Sigfried Giedion uses a wonderful method to develop a discussion of architecture. He says that there is a direct connection between the architecture of a period and the concept of space that the period achieves. I don’t think that there is any other suitable explanatory work on the strong background of modern Western architecture which has helped it advance. I think that the thinking method in his historical view of Western architecture beginning with the Renaissance reflects an orthodox position in an understanding of the subject. Since the contents of his book are well known, there is no need to repeat them here. He mentions that Western architectural spaces began from the same mental attitude as the concept of science. In the West there was a direct coupling of artistic learning and mathematical learning. Every new concept in science had a direct homologue in the arts. When integral calculus acquired definite content in the end of the seventeenth century, the adoption of complicated spaces appeared in architecture. Renaissance spaces were three-dimensional according to Euclidean geometry. In about 1830, however, a new geometric system, vastly different from Euclidean geometry, came into being. As this new geometry developed, a stage was reached at which the mathematicians were using mathematics and dimensions that could not be understood through simple conjecturing, and the idea of space itself expanded.
From Giedion’s book I learned that there is a...